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A FRENCH BRONZE FIGURE OF ORPHEUS, cast from a model by Charles-Raoul Verlet, the youthful hero shown standing, his lyre at his feet, his head crowned with a wreath of laurel and his cloak billowing in an arc, Cereberus roaring behind, on naturalistic rocky base, signed Raoul Verlet, numbered 764, inscribed F. BARBEDIENNE FONDEUR PARIS, and with Reduction Mecanique stamp, second half 19th Century

Details
A FRENCH BRONZE FIGURE OF ORPHEUS, cast from a model by Charles-Raoul Verlet, the youthful hero shown standing, his lyre at his feet, his head crowned with a wreath of laurel and his cloak billowing in an arc, Cereberus roaring behind, on naturalistic rocky base, signed Raoul Verlet, numbered 764, inscribed F. BARBEDIENNE FONDEUR PARIS, and with Reduction Mecanique stamp, second half 19th Century
32¾in. (83cm.) high
Literature
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, La Sculpture Française au XIXe Siècle, 1986, p. 245
P. Kjellburg, Les Bronzes du XIXe Siècle, Paris, 1987, pp. 638-9

Lot Essay

Raoul Verlet (1857-1923) exhibited at the Paris Salon form 1880 to 1914. He was greatly acclaimed as a sculptor during his lifetime, working on several State commissions, including the group of Les Arts surmounting the portal of the Grand Palais, and the charming and original Monument to Guy de Maupassant of 1897 in the Parc Monceau in Paris. He exhibited his statue of Orpheus, also known as La Douleur d'Orphée, in plaster at the Salon of 1887. A bronze version was erected in the Place Malesherbe in Paris, but was unfortunately destroyed in 1942.
Orpheus of Thrace, one of the great mythological heroes, was distinguished not for his exploits in war, but for his supreme musical talents. He was the son of Apollo, and sang and played his lyre so sublimely, that even the wild beasts and trees followed him. He loved and married the nymph Eurydice, but on her accidental death by a snake bite, was so distraught that he gained permission to reclaim her from the Underworld. His music even charmed Cereberus, guardian of the Gates of Hell, but breaking his promise not to look at her until they had exited from Hades, he lost her forever. Verlet has chosen to illustrate Orpheus both as the personification of the power of music, his lyre and the subdued Cereberus at his feet, his body in dance, and also of despair for lost love. It is a poetic image, illustrating a subject rare in sculpture, and evoking with mastery this confluence of emotions.
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